Omarion Smith lives in Detroit and attends a parochial school outside the city. This is the letter his mother sent the school following the verdict in State of Minnesota v. Derek Michael Chauvin.
Dear Mr. -----,
It has come to my attention that some rather insensitive comments were made by you during your Sociology class regarding the trial of Derrick Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
I was told that it is your opinion regarding George Floyd, that it was important to remember that "whites are killed more than black people by the police." In regards the systematic murder of unarmed African American people at the hands of the police (the cause for which the George Floyd's murder represents) this statement is insensitive, built upon racist principles, and irrelevant to the purpose of this class.
Allow me to break this down from an actual sociological scientific perspective based on information that I got from a simple search of research from USC's School of Sociology and the New York Times. Black people are 28% of the people who were killed by the police despite being only 13% of the population. In addition, we know that white people are responsible for more crime in the United States, yet in their interactions with the police, whites are three times less likely to end in a fatality. And of these disproportionate shootings of black people, it has been found that we are 1.3 times less likely to be armed in these deadly interactions.
The shame here is that there is not one study which shows that white people are being killed disproportionately by the police in correlation with the rates they commit crimes or in the way they interact with the police or the public with or without weapons. Yet, these are the lies you offered up to my child in an educational setting.
It would preserve the educational integrity of that school if teachers kept their opinions, which are based on erasure of black narratives and half-baked conspiracy theories, to the teachers lounge and reserve the classroom space for actual academic principles rooted in social science, fact, or at least Christianity.
I expect some clarification on these statements as soon as possible. On this day, I cannot allow the erasure of black grievances to stand. George Floyd was not a murder about murder. He died because there is an issue with policing of black and brown people in this country, and that has been proven by the science of Sociology time and time again. Full stop.
As always, feel free to call me to further discuss what your next steps are to remedy the educational injustice which occurred yesterday.
Joy Mohammed is a Program Manager at University of Detroit Mercy, where she manages iDRAW, a program providing opportunities and support for students who are interested in Robotics-aligned fields. She is a former school counselor and current second-year law student.